If you feel guilty about the amount of paper you use every year, there’s a company making stationery, photo albums, cards, frames, and even gift bags out of an incredibly Earth-friendly material.
Introducing Haathi Chaap, a green initiative out of India making paper products from elephant poo!
Haathi Chaap means ‘Prints of the elephant’ and the team turn elephant dung into paper by cleaning it in water tanks so that only the fibre remains. Once the fibre is cooked, it is dried and sorted, then placed in muslin cloth, pressed, and made into paper.
Fascinated with this green company, we spoke to Mahima Mehra of Haathi Chaap to get the inside scoop.
What’s the story behind Elephant Poo Paper? How on Earth did this come about, and how long after you had the initial idea did it come to fruition?
‘Vijendra, our paper producer, wanted to take me to a little shrine atop a hill near Jaipur. The weather was fine, and we decided to walk. But when we reached the foot of the hill, we realised most pilgrims preferred to go up on elephant back. So there we were, two pygmies trudging up with large pachyderm behinds and swinging tails around us. There was dry elephant dung underfoot, and suddenly, it struck us how similar it looked to the raw fibre from which we made paper. So we performed several experiments for two to three months and eventually came up with usable sheets of paper made of elephant dung’.
What’s the process behind making the paper products?
‘The method used for making elephant dung paper is more or less the same as making other varieties of handmade paper. There are minor changes we have had to make because of the fibrous nature of the raw material. Making sure that the paper is not harmful for the papermaker as well as the user was our biggest challenge, so disinfectants are used to make the paper as bacteria free as possible’.
Where do you collect all your elephant dung from? And how much does it take to make a single sheet of paper?
‘We work in a city called Jaipur. There is an old fort close to the city, where tourists can ride on elephants. We work with those elephants. Currently, we are working with about five to ten elephants. Each sheet takes about 35 to 50 grams of dung’.
What kind of products does Elephant Poo Paper sell? How can we get our hands on them?
‘We work with elephant dung and cotton rag paper. Haathi Chaap also has a cotton rag paper and textile collection under the brand Angootha Chhaap.